(Bloomberg) -- Thailand’s biggest shopping center developer, Central Retail Corp., is piloting a digital currency among its employees with plans to expand the offering to customers and the public once the so-called sandbox phase is complete.

Central’s “C-Coin” is based on blockchain technology and is currently being distributed to its 80,000 employees globally, on merit on top of their regular compensation. It can be used as a substitute for cash at restaurants, or to buy products and services from partners under Central Retail. 

Once all employees adopt the token and the company learns more about its performance, the coin may be expanded to members of the public, according to Kowin Kulruchakorn, chief innovative officer at Central Tech, a unit of the retail giant that invented the C-Coin and handles all of CRC’s omni-channel and e-commerce platforms.

“We’ll be looking to enhance the C-Coin after we have used it within our network,” Kowin said in an interview. “If our employees are able to use the C-Coin, then our customers should have no problems with it.” 

Kowin declined to elaborate on how the tokens might be distributed to the public, including whether they’d be listed or available for trading, saying plans weren’t yet settled.

Central Retail is controlled by the Chirathivat family, which retains about 70% of the company. Closely held Central Group operates shopping malls under the Central and Central Embassy brands, as well as speciality stores. Outside Thailand, it owns Italian department store La Rinascente, Danish retailer Illum, and the Big C hypermarket chain in Vietnam.

“We see a lot of potential for the C-Coin. No matter whether our customers are migrating online or going back to malls offline, we must find the best ways to reach them and create spending,” Kowin said. “There are so many different opportunities that blockchain technology can bring us.”

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